City moving forward to seek golf course management proposals

The city of Great Falls is in search of someone to take over management of its two municipal golf courses.

This spring, City Manager Greg Doyon directed Steve Herrig, Park and Recreation director, to develop a request for proposals for management of the golf courses.

In April, Doyon told City Commissioners that depending on the responses, the city could move forward with private management of the courses while still maintaining ownership, or discussions on closing or selling one or both courses.

City to seek proposals for management of both golf courses

During an Aug. 21 work session, Herrig presented a draft RFP to commissioners. He was planning to release it in July, but is hoping to have it released in the coming weeks and have someone in place by the end of the year should any acceptable proposals be submitted.

The RFP asks for a operations plan and Herrig said the city would like to see consideration of current golf staff, but it’s not a requirement. The city will not pay a management fee, Herrig said.

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The RFP also asks for a plan regarding concessions. The city currently has a contract with K&M, Inc. for both golf courses through the 2019 golf season, but Herrig said that could be terminated early if needed.

The golf courses currently owe the city’s general fund about $1 million, a financial situation that Doyon said is a critical concern to the city’s financial stability and limits flexibility when it comes to other major capital needs.

Herrig said the debt would not be passed on to whoever takes over management of the courses, should a proposal be approved.

Herrig said they’ve kept the RFP parameters fairly open to encourage creativity from anyone making a proposal.

Once released, the city is planning to have a 30-day deadline for proposals.

Once proposals are received, Herrig and Doyon said they anticipate the negotiation phase to take more time.

Doyon said the city would include some controls in the contract to protect the city since it will maintain ownership of the two municipal courses. Herrig said the expectation is that the courses will be maintained at the current level or higher.

They city has modeled its RFP on the process recently used in Sioux Falls, S.D. The city council there voted in a new management company for the three municipal courses in a city of about 183,000.

Doyon said that if the city receives more than one proposals, they’ll likely set another meeting with commissioners to discuss.